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Old Fashioned Cinnamon Rolls | Tender with cinnamon swirls and vanilla icing

Old Fashioned Cinnamon Rolls

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These tender, delicious Old Fashioned Cinnamon Rolls are made with mashed potatoes in the dough and taste like rolls your grandmother would make!

Old Fashioned Cinnamon Roll on a white plate with cinnamon sticks

Bread Baking through the Years

My mom and her cousins spent many afternoons playing at her grandmother’s house in her small North Dakota hometown. Her beloved Dama was a short Irish woman, who topped out at 4 feet, 8 inches, and seemed to always be wearing an apron, ready to offer a cozy hug.

I have a treasured copy of a compilation of her recipes put together by one of my mom’s cousins. I never got her cinnamon roll recipe, but I’d like to think these old fashioned cinnamon rolls would be something she’d love to make for her daughers and grandchildren.

The bread recipes include Dr. Wink’s Brown Bread and Dama’s Banana Bread, but no yeast bread. However, I know she made yeast bread as one of my mom’s favorite memories was to practice her bread-making techniques by kneading Dama’s fleshy arm. No wonder my mom made such terrific bread! Practice makes perfect.

Unfrosted Old Fashioned Cinnamon Rolls on a square tray


Old Fashioned Cinnamon Rolls

My family goes a bit crazy for cinnamon rolls. When the kids were all wee ones, Bill would buy them Sara Lee’s frozen version to zap in the microwave for quick weekend breakfasts. He still scours the frozen food aisles with fingers crossed that somehow production has been resumed.

He grew up spoiled by his grandmother’s homemade cinnamon rolls. She would bake up a batch every Saturday morning along with loaves of bread—all ingredient amounts were from sight and touch, so there were no recipes to pass along. Since Sara hadn’t come through for him, and Nick was heading back to college in a few days, I thought I’d treat them both to some old-fashioned goodness.

These old fashioned cinnamon rolls got the hubby’s seal of approval! I hope you’ll enjoy this cinnamon buns recipe, too

Old Fashioned Cinnamon Roll on a white plate with a red-handled fork

More Family Recipes:

Old Fashioned Cinnamon Rolls

Old Fashioned Cinnamon Rolls

Sweet, tender cinnamon rolls topped with a vanilla buttercream icing.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Yield 24 rolls


  • 1-½ cups warm water, about 120º
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup mashed potatoes, unseasoned, no milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 envelopes active dry yeast (6 3/4 teaspoons), I use Red Star Yeast
  • 3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 to 3 cups bread flour
  • ⅓ cup butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons cinnamon


  • ½ cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. In a large bowl or stand mixer, place the warm water, sugar, oil, potatoes, eggs, and yeast. Mix thoroughly. Add salt and mix again. Add milk powder and all-purpose flour. Beat for 3 minutes. Gradually add the bread flour (not all, only enough to make the dough workable). Transfer to a lightly floured surface (or use your stand mixer with a dough hook) and knead 10 minutes.
  2. Grease a large, deep bowl with oil. Form the dough into a smooth ball and place in the bowl. Using your hands, grease the top of the dough. Cover with saran wrap and/or a towel and place in a warm, draft location to rise until doubled, about 1-3/4 hours.
  3. Punch down dough to release air bubbles. Form again into a smooth ball and turn to regrease. Cover and allow to rise for 1 hour.
  4. Punch the dough down again, then transfer to a lightly floured surface. Roll into a rectangle approximately 15 wide by 12 inches tall. Make sure to square the corners nicely. It will be about 1 inch thick. Spread the dough with the softened butter, up to about 1 inch from the top long edge.
  5. Grease two baking sheets or a 9 x13 and 9 x 9 baking dish.
  6. In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar with the cinnamon. Sprinkle this over the butter. Tightly roll the dough from the bottom long side up. You may need to pat the ends in to make the rolls square on the ends. Using a serrated knife, cut the roll using a saw like motion into rounds. Place rolls on the baking sheet cut side up.
  7. Cover rolls with a towel and let them rise in a warm, draft free spot for one hour.
  8. Preheat the oven to 325º.
  9. Bake the rolls for 10 minutes, the raise the oven temperature to 350º and bake for 5 minutes longer (I check the rolls to make sure they’re at leat 190º internally and increase baking time if needed). Remove the rolls from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. To make the frosting, place the butter, flour, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Beat until blended. Spread on top of the rolls prior to serving.


Total time does not include proofing times.

This recipe is adapted from Marcia Adams' "Cooking from Quilt Country."

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 roll

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 292Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 261mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 1gSugar: 15gProtein: 5g


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32 comments on “Old Fashioned Cinnamon Rolls”

  1. What family doesn’t go crazy for cinnamon rolls? I am already drooling and I am not family!

  2. Dear Liz, I should not have looked at this lovely post of yours before breakfast with just my mug of coffee in my hand! I want those cinnamon rolls, now! I am know to also bake yeast-based doughs with potatoes (like my grand-ma) and I know that they add so much deliciousness and a bit of old-world charm to home baking!
    Fantastic recipe, dear friend!
    Now where can I find cinnamon rolls on a Sunday morning around here?

  3. Boy they look good Liz! I love the fun placement in the square pan:@) I think I’m gonna have to make some cinnamon rolls for coffee with Ma one of these Saturdays soon.

  4. I grew up with my mom being the bread maker (particuarly the yeast breads) while my Nanny was the cookie and pie maker 🙂 I had many mornings where mom had cinnamon rolls on the table. I don’t know she ever used mashed potatoes in her cinnamon rolls but I know she used them in her breads and doughnuts! Your rolls sound (and look) heavenly and I’m glad you gave your hubby a memorable treat 🙂

  5. These are gorgeous, Liz! I love that your recipe only makes a small pan. Perfect for the small group we are at home right now.

  6. Wow! These look absolutely delectable!! Lovely photos! I wish I had one of these babies to enjoy with my cup of tea!

  7. You ALWAYS have the BEST looking photos, and drool worthy recipes! Thank you for making my stomach growl so early in desperation for one these scrumptious cinnamon rolls!!

  8. I love potato bread so I must try these rolls!

  9. I’m sure these beautiful cinnamon rolls would be grandma approved, especially when that grandma is wonderful enough to let little ones practice their kneading on her arm.

  10. These cinnamon rolls are so beautiful! I like that you baked it in a rectangular pan.

  11. Nothing beats cinnamon rolls for breakfast! Your look gorgeous!

  12. These are perfection, Liz, but I would expect nothing less from you. Milk powder sounds like a great addition. It’s such a great secret ingredient.

  13. Be still my heart! These cinnamon rolls look absolutely divine!

  14. Oh, how I’d love one of these cinnamon rolls tomorrow morning!

  15. My Granny always made homemade cinnamon rolls too! There is never anything better! These look fabulous Liz!

  16. I love potato in bread, rolls, etc. There seems to be something so magical and delicious about the combination of potato and yeast. These look crazy good Liz. I’m sure I could never eat just one!

  17. My cinnamon rolls can never stand up to The Hubs’ memory of his own grandmother’s (from SD, btw). Might give these a go and see what happens.

  18. You have got to be kidding me! Mashed potato? Incredible! These rolls look amazing!

  19. Family’s recipes are the best! This looks terrific! And even if is a old recipe looks like a new one, chic and glamour!

  20. Nothing can beat a homemade cinnamon roll. And these look so stunning. Love that it makes a small pan. Perfect for a small family! 🙂

  21. My grandmother made yeast-based cinnamon buns and yours look just as good!

  22. My in-laws were recently here from Singapore and wanted cinnamon rolls. I wish I had time to make your recipe. They would have loved them just as I would.

  23. Lizzy,
    I’m drooling over these. I can’t wait to try them.

  24. Those cinnamon rolls look and sound so delicious, I wish I could enjoy one now!

  25. Sounds like you were born with baking skills in your blood!
    Your cinnamon rolls look incredible, definitely a treat.

  26. Wow. We make some cinnamon rolls using puff pastry, but never tried to make the dough ourselves! Frozen puff pastry usually has some trans fats, so we try to avoid them. Your wonderful recipe is natural, healthier and most importantly traditional!
    We loved the story with your mom and your great-grandma! 🙂 Those really are memories to treasure!
    Have a beautiful day and thank you for the delicious idea dear Liz!
    Panos and Mirella

  27. homemade cinnamon rolls are always THE BEST and this recipe looks so gorgeous and flawless and timelessy delicious!

  28. really love the idea of having mashed potatoes in the dough.. must be lovely

  29. Liz! this is absolutely divine! xxx

  30. OMG – I can almost smell the wonderful aroma of the cinnamon!
    You have no idea how much I love cinnamon rolls 🙂 Your are mouth-watering

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